Volunteer Fire Chief Indicted After Comptroller Investigation Reveals Missing Money

Press release from the Office of TN Comptroller of the Treasury, July 30, 2015:

Former Hardy’s Chapel Volunteer Fire Chief Terry L. Priest is now facing indictment after an investigation by the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office discovered a cash shortage of at least $37,496.11 in the volunteer fire department located in Overton County.

Comptroller investigators noted a number of problems after conducting interviews and examining bank records, receipts, and other accounting records.

Investigators found the former chief issued eight checks from the Hardy’s Chapel VFD bank account to himself. The former chief also made numerous cash withdrawals from the HCVFD bank accounts. Finally, in at least three instances, the former chief did not deposit a portion of funds received from insurance proceeds and incident cost recoveries.

On July 17, 2015, Terry L. Priest was indicted by the Overton County Grand Jury on one count of theft over $10,000.

“We have investigated numerous cases of money stolen from volunteer fire departments,” Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said. “I am pleased the Tennessee General Assembly passed legislation requiring volunteer fire departments that receive public funds to begin filing an annual financial statement with our office. Hopefully this will provide increased financial accountability.”

To view the investigation online, go to: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/ia/

If you suspect fraud, waste or abuse of public money in Tennessee, call the Comptroller’s toll-free hotline at (800) 232-5454, or file a report online at: www.comptroller.tn.gov/hotline. Follow us on twitter @TNCOT